Popular media franchises usually generate spin-offs. The fans get more content, and the higher-ups more money, so it’s a win-win situation. In this regard, videogame adaptations are highly popular, as it allows fans to play as their favorite characters. While some franchises only get mobile game adaptations (that often rip off other mobile games), some get quality experiences. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one such long-running series that has plenty of gaming experiences. Its latest (original) game, TMNT Shredder’s Revenge, is a worthwhile addition to the franchise. So let’s talk about what makes this game great.
To be fair, the story feels like an afterthought. It’s only told by animated images, accompanied by a voice line if you’re lucky. Nevertheless, it makes for a good excuse to journey around New York.
The Turtles, along with their human-reporter friend April and their master Splinter, are watching TV. However, the news shows the return of the Foot clan led by Shredder, who wants to recover all the parts of Krang. As such, the team must chase the Foot clan all across Manhattan and beyond to stop their evil scheme. The story serves its purpose, but nothing more. However, it’s made better by the use of classic TMNT villains.
Shredder’s Revenge translates the signature combat styles of the Turtles into the beat-em-up genre. The game is comprised of 16 levels, each in a different location. They can be experienced in 2 ways: story mode and arcade mode.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge features standard action-packed gameplay with some TMNT twists. All characters have a basic attack and the ability to charge it to unleash a more powerful attack. Jumping makes aerial attacks accessible and there’s a dash ability to defend yourself against incoming attacks. Dashing can not only be used as a defensive skill but can also lead to follow-up strikes. You can find pizza throughout stages to refill your health, unlock unlimited Ninja Power for a few seconds, or perform a screen-clearing attack.
It sounds pretty basic so far; however, the addition of Ninja Power tries to change that. Dealing damage fills up the Ninja gauge and taking damage reduces it. When it’s charged up, you can press X to initiate a super attack. This, of course, deals tons of damage and has a wide reach. However, you might find its charge time to be pretty slow, which is where taunting comes in. Taunting during battle is a way to quickly recharge your Ninja gauge to get more super attacks in. It’s an entertaining risk-reward feature and the animation played is befitting of each character’s personality. It leaves you vulnerable to attacks and if you are interrupted, the taunt will not fill the gauge.
Smashing your way through these levels is really satisfying for the most part. It always manages to keep you alert at all times. Defeating a tough foe or boss always feels rewarding, and your moves flow into each other well. Something I personally found irritating, though, is that moving upward is pretty difficult. The game feels 2D at times, as you can’t easily position yourself north. It makes enemies above you (that aren’t aerial) challenging to deal with. Lastly, all these damage mechanics aren’t taught through a proper tutorial, but through an animated slideshow.
Characters & Progression
Six different characters are available from the start. These characters are Leo, Raph, Donnie, Mikey, April, and Splinter, with one more unlockable unit. They’re most distinguished in their stats, not through any unique moveset, per se. Each character can have up to 3 stars in either range, power, or speed. As such, it’s not difficult to find a favorite.
Staying loyal to a certain character pays off, as they can level up. Increasing a character’s rank increases their maximum Ninja gauge, health, or lives. Some ranks give your character a new attack, such as being able to use super attacks in the air. The characters are JUST varied enough to not feel like clones, yet the system could’ve been fleshed out more.
Modes & Content
Shredder’s Revenge features 16 levels, each ending in a boss fight. They can be experienced in 2 ways: arcade mode and story mode. Arcade mode requires you to beat the entire campaign in one sitting, without the character level benefits mentioned earlier, and with limited lives. They’re the best way to put your skills (and patience) to the test.
The story mode has a map tying the levels together, allowing you to easily continue where you left off and replay certain levels. In these levels, you complete certain challenges and find collectibles. However, that’s the main source of replayability in this game. The campaign is fairly short, so unless you’re hunting for the aforementioned collectibles and challenges, you’ll be done very quickly. The game does have a lot of unlockable achievements if that’s your thing. It’s still nothing but brawling, which gets repetitive. But as mentioned earlier, the game is pretty short, so casual players aren’t likely to get bored.
Arguably, one of the main attractors to this game is the co-op. You can fight the Foot clan with up to 5 other people, either locally or online. This brings its own strengths, but one major flaw. Let’s start off strong though.
In co-op, you can press L near an ally to give them a high five. This allows you to give that ally 2 of your health points, to save them from death. Speaking of, if you die in co-op, you don’t immediately use a life. Your teammates have 10 seconds to go to your location and revive you. It really makes it feel like you are fighting together.
However, the more people in the lobby there are, the more cluttered it gets. It’s incredibly easy to lose track of the character in heated fights. No one in their right mind will deny that the Turtles have iconic designs, but you have to admit that they aren’t easy to distinguish from each other in a crowd.
The matchmaking was fairly decent. At any point in the story mode, another player can drop into your game to help you out from across the globe. You can even search for players tackling the same level as you if you’re struggling. However, depending on the time of day, there might not be anyone playing the same chapter as you. Arcade mode seems to be more popular, as it’s easy to find multiple lobbies for you to jump into.
For any tie-in game, a strong presentation is needed. It has to be recognizable to the fans, and the connection with the rest of the franchise must be crystal clear. In that regard, Shredder’s Revenge does not disappoint for the most part.
Visuals & fanservice
Pixel artwork is clearly timeless, and the Turtles adapt perfectly to this style. Overall, the artwork and animations all look great. It helps the arcade-ey feel of the game immensely, making this a visual joy.
Obviously, the game does make a lot of callbacks to previous TMNT media. Personally, my only experience with the Turtles was the “Rise of the TNMT: The movie”, but I could tell that a lot of passion was put into this game. From the in-character taunts to the game’s rogue gallery and the massive amount of cameos in the collectibles, it alone makes this game a must-play for any fans of this long-running franchise. And that’s not even where it ends.
Music & sound
Not only does this game look great, but it also sounds great too, with some caveats. The game features some catchy beats, like the intro song and the boss battle theme. There are plenty of themes that’ll get stuck in your head. Every playable character is voiced too and by their original actors from the ’87 cartoons, which is always great to hear. However, the audio quality leaves a lot to be desired.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is a worthy spin-off of this long-lasting, beloved franchise. It does a great job at capturing the series’ comedic atmosphere topped off with action-packed combat, and a good combat system keeping it all together. It feels like a great pick-up-and-play experience if you need some quick ninjitsu action. However, there is a big lack of content, and not a lot of unique content either. Not to mention that the fights can get messy, and not in a good way. If you’re not a fan of the Turtles, it might be hard to get the most bang for your buck.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge gets a 7/10.